Causes of Heart Failure and Conditions that May Increase Risk

There are many common causes of heart failure, which is a condition characterized by the heart failing to pump blood properly. There are three types of heart failure: left-sided, right-sided, and congestive. Left-sided heart failure occurs either when the left side of the heart loses its ability to contract and squeeze blood out toward the arteries (systolic failure) or becomes unable to expand and fill with oxygenated blood from the lungs (diastolic failure). Right-sided heart failure occurs when the right side of the heart becomes unable to push blood into the lungs; this is often due to backwards pressure caused by left-sided heart failure. Congestive heart failure is the most serious form and often results in swelling because of blood backing up into the veins and body tissues due to a lack of forward pressure through the heart.

There are many different conditions that can lead to or increase the risk of heart failure. The most common two are coronary artery disease, which is when the small blood vessels supplying blood and oxygen to the heart become too narrow, and high blood pressure, which can weaken the muscles controlling the heart. Other causes and risks of heart failure include:

  • Heart attacks
  • Infections occurring near the heart muscle
  • Congenital heart diseases
  • Leaky or narrow heart valves
  • Arrhythmias
  • Emphysema, or damaged air sacs in the lungs
  • Sarcoidosis, which is the growth of inflammatory cells, often in the lungs
  • An overabundance of iron in the blood
  • Amyloidosis, an abnormal protein growth
  • Abnormal thyroid activity
  • Severe anemia

Tampa General Hospital has a team of highly experienced cardiologists who are trained to diagnose and treat patients who have heart and vascular diseases, including heart failure. In fact, in 2015, TGH became the only hospital in Hillsborough County to receive heart failure accreditation from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care (SCPC)/American College of Cardiology Accreditation Service, as well as one of the only 10 in Florida to receive that recognition. Also, we have advanced disease-specific certification from The Joint Commission for both heart failure and ventricular assist devices. Furthermore, TGH has been recognized for its excellence in cardiac care, earning placement on U.S. News & World Report's list of America's Best Hospitals Cardiology & Heart Surgery.

Any patients who have conditions known to be causes of heart failure or who have reason to believe they may have heart failure may seek diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment from Tampa General Hospital’s Cardiovascular Center. To be referred to a specialist with Tampa General Hospital, please visit our online PhysicianFinder or call 1-800-822-DOCS (3627).